STOCKTON — Big players make big plays, and Monday against Central Catholic, D’Angelo Finley made the biggest play of the night.
With 7.1 seconds remaining and host Weston Ranch clinging to a two-point lead, the Raiders were driving for the tying score when Finley stepped into the lane causing a collision and bodies to fly. When the whistle sounded and the referee indicated Finley had drawn a charge, the home stands erupted as the Cougars went on to a 69-66 Valley Oak League boys basketball victory.
“We talk about taking charges whenever we can,” Finley said. “It is just instinct. We work on it in practice every day.”
Finley (12 points) may have had the biggest play of the night, but it was not the only big play for Weston Ranch (7-0 VOL, 16-4 overall).
Leading 64-63, Josh Dilg pulled in an offensive rebound for the Cougars with 35 seconds left in the game. Weston Ranch coach Chris Teevan immediately called a timeout and just two seconds after play resumed Jaelen Ragsdale fed Fred Lavender (18 points) in the corner and Lavender drained a 3-pointer for a 67-63 lead.
“First of all, we don’t have the ball if Josh (Dilg) doesn’t get that offensive board on the week side,” Teevan said. “Second of all, we probably have a layup by Jaelen (Ragsdale) if I don’t call timeout.
“After the timeout, we wanted Jaelen to make a pick and roll and make the read and Fred (Lavender) was wide open. And that’s a shot he needs to take.”
Lavender wanted to take the shot.
“I told Jaelen coming out of the timeout that I was shooting with confidence,” Lavender said. “I told him as soon as I catch it I was letting it go. As soon as I released it I knew it was in.
“I don’t recall a bigger shot in my career.”
After the Raiders (4-3, 15-4) went ahead 16-15 early in the second period, the worked their way to a 46-37 lead late in the third quarter when Darren Igarta fueled a 12-3 run with a pair of three pointers sandwiched around a Ragsdale three-point play and capped off with a Lavender 3-pointer to tie the score at 49-49 after three quarters.
“He can shoot,” Teevan said of Igarta. “And our guys know he can shoot. He has been shooting really, really well lately.
“He hit a couple against Lathrop back to back. He hit a couple against Kimball.”
Ragsdale led the Cougars with 21 points.
“This was a big game for us,” Ragsdale said. “We came in here knowing this is one the biggest weeks of our lives – we have three tough games (at Manteca on Wednesday and hosting Sierra on Friday) this week and this is the first step.”
Ragsdale scored 15 of his points in the first half.
“I think that is just preparation,” Ragsdale said. “Coming into the game I was really focused.
“In the second half as a team we picked up the effort and we started playing hard. We were leaving a lot of shooters open for a lot of easy buckets and offensive rebounds so we locked in and focused and we made our run.”
Of Finley drawing the charge at the end Ragsdale said, “That’s a big call. That can go either way and it went our way this time.”
After Central Catholic took that second-quarter lead, Weston Ranch tied the game five times but could not take the lead until midway through the fourth quarter on a 3-pointer by Lavender. One of the reasons the Cougars could not go ahead was pinpoint shooting by Peter Hamilton (21 points), Jarred Rice (17) and Josh Hamilton (13) along with 12 offensive rebounds by the Raiders.
“Their guards were tough and if our guards don’t rebound then their guards will get fouls and second-chance opportunities,” Teevan said. “While we don’t see a team whose guards rebound like that very often, our guards still have to do better.
“I felt scared coming in. It’s hard to get up for every single game for five months straight. Some things have happened off the court for some of our players so just getting them focused in for an hour and a half was important.”
Of Lavender’s 18 points, 12 were on 3-pointers.
“If we lost this game we would lose everything,” Lavender said. “We want to go undefeated in league, we want to win section. We want all of it.
“We have been working for this for four years.”
East Union 53,
Gyse Hulsebosch led all scorers with 22 points in Tracy, but his biggest buckets for East Union (3-4, 11-8) came in the final 13 seconds of the game.
Coming off a timeout, Hulsebosch attacked the basket and converted the go-ahead layup with six seconds remaining. He then turned around and stole the inbounds pass from Kimball (2-5, 8-13) before converting another layup that sealed the victory. The Jaguars hit a desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Austin Miller contributed 10 points for East Union, while Rubin Mann led Kimball with 17.
Sierra 70, Oakdale 39
Oakdale (0-7, 1-19) hung around for two quarters and was down by just three, 24-21, at halftime before the visiting Timberwolves (3-4, 12-7) got untracked.
Daniel Wyatt led the charge with 21 points, and Jess Spivey finished with 16.
East Union 62,
The Lancers were down by five at halftime but led by five after a 23-point flurry in the third quarter.
Blake Greenlee poured in 18 points, and Jojo Espinoza added 12. Jesse Anzar and Jay Gakhal chipped in 10 points apiece. The win for East Union (5-2) puts it in a three-way tie for second place with Kimball and Manteca.
Central Catholic 83, Weston Ranch 53
Milloni Massey scored 21 of his 25 points for the Cougars in the second half.
Charles Jemison added 12 points for Weston Ranch.
Weston Ranch 58,
Central Catholic 14
The Cougars held the Raiders scoreless in the first period and to single digits in each of the other three.
Weston Ranch’s Elijah Bridges led all scorers with 13 points with teammates Donovan Phothavong and Da’quan Kelly adding 12 points apiece.
Ripon Christian 39
The Indians jump started rivalry week in Ripon with the victory. They were anchored by Spencer Schroen’s 22 points, while Vincent Olmo and Dallas Waters contributed 13 and nine, respectively.
Cade Alger paced Ripon Christian with 16.